What is it?
A Root-Canal Treatment removes the pulp of the tooth, including the nerve and blood supply from a decay or damaged tooth. A local anesthetic is used and it will feel the same as having an ordinary filling done. If it is left untreated the pulp becomes infected and may spread eventually leading to an abscess.
Why is it done?
Root-Canal Treatment eliminates pain from the decay or damaged tooth which may have resulted in an abscess or swollen pulp and is the stage before a crown is placed on top as a cover.
If the acid softens the tooth enough, eventually the nerve deep within the tooth will become damaged/inflammed too. This can be very painful and is frequently a cause of patients going to the dentist. When this happens, a root filling may be necessary to try to save the tooth. Root filling a tooth is the last stage before losing a tooth. If the patient had attended earlier, a simple filling would more than likely have rectified the problem. The use of a laser cavity scanner can reduce the chance of having this type of treatment, with early decay detection.
A root filling involves removing the nerve from deep within the tooth using files. The empty root area is then disinfected and shaped before finally filling it, usually with a rubber material. The tooth usually needs to be crowned after this type of treatment, to give it support and strength.
If too many bacteria remain in the root area, they can multiply and cause an infection (abscess). It is therefore essential to keep bacteria out and to disinfect the root area as well as possible. Dentists usually do this by isolating the tooth with a sheet of rubber (rubber dam) whilst working on it, to prevent bacteria from the mouth entering the open root.
At the front of the mouth, the teeth usually have one main root. Further back in the mouth, the teeth tend to have more roots, molars sometimes having 4 or more. The more roots a tooth has the more difficult the procedure. Other complicating factors are roots with curves, accessory lateral canals and calcified roots. The roots become calcified as a protective response to decay and/or trauma. Both curved and calcified roots make the tooth more difficult for the dentist to clean properly.
All these factors make root fillings lengthy procedures and even if they are done perfectly they can still fail. If they do fail, an abscess (collection of pus) will form at the end of the tooth. The tooth will then need to be retreated, extracted or have an apicectomy (removal of infection root portion only).